Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taking a Break from Baseball with Writers in Their Own Words

It's fall, the nights are crisp, the leaves are just beginning to turn; what better time to curl up with a mug of hot cider and lose yourself in a mystery with “Top-notch writing, meticulous plotting – and a heroine who is perfectly imperfect…” (Diana Vickery, the Cozy Library).

That's what you'll find as psychologist/advice columnist/sleuth Dr. Rebecca Butterman plunges into her third mystery in ASKING FOR MURDER by Dr. Roberta Isleib (Berkley Prime Crime, September 2008.)

When Rebecca’s close friend and fellow therapist Annabelle Hart is found beaten and left for dead, Rebecca is determined to help search for answers. But this time, no one wants her help. Not Detective Meigs, who thinks the crime was either a botched robbery or the result of a relationship gone sour. And not Annabelle’s sister, who makes it clear that Rebecca isn’t welcome in family affairs.

The only place where her opinion matters is the therapist’s couch. Rebecca's agreed to see Annabelle’s patients while her friend is hospitalized, but it won’t be easy. Annabelle’s area of expertise is sandplay therapy, which Rebecca knows little about. While she studies the images in the patients’ sand trays and puzzles through Annabelle’s family secrets, another victim is murdered. With a killer on the loose, she can only hope the clues in the sand are buried within easy reach.

Here's Roberta in her own words . . .

1.) How did you come up with the idea for this book? Are you more driven
by plot or by character? Who's your favorite character in this book and why?

Definitely, I'm driven by character. I love my main character Dr.
Butterman--it's such fun to think about the kinds of cases she might be
treating and how her own history plays into the story. Because I was a
therapist for many years, I really understand her work and the way she
thinks about the people she tries to help. I stumbled into the sandplay part
of the story, but I found a wonderful therapist in New Hampshire who walked
me through the process of how clients use the sand trays and the figurines
and what it all means.

I've really enjoyed writing this series. I can highlight my background in
psychology and write about folks in that field who are competent and caring,
rather than the idiotic and downright hurtful professionals you often see in
movies and on TV. I’m very proud of the time I spent working as a clinical
psychologist, but happy to be writing now.

2.) What's your writing process/writing environment like?

As I begin a book, I look ahead to the due date and figure out how many
pages I will need to write each week in order to hand it in on time. I build
in time for trips and family and time for my writers group to read and
critique, and then time for me to rewrite. Then I have a page goal for each
week. I write until I’ve hit the goal, sometimes even getting a little
ahead. I'm getting better at outlining because I find it makes the story
much easier to write. Not so many black moments when I have no idea what's
going to happen next...

3.) What's your favorite part of writing?

I love looking at what I've written and feeling excited about it. I love
seeing the new book in all its stages. I love meeting fans and talking
books. And I simply adore the friends I've made along the way.

4.) What's the best piece of advice you've ever gotten about writing?

Get it all down, even if it's awful. You can always go back and fix things

Roberta also blogs here and here.


Roberta Isleib said...

Thanks a million for hosting me on your blog Judy!

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Happy to have you, Roberta!